Connecticut’s model fails to reduce crime

Connecticut’s model fails to reduce crime

Connecticut’s experiment with alternative sentences for young offenders has failed to curb the juvenile crime rate.

Connecticut began the project in the mid-1990s with the expectation that about 100 alternative programs such as home monitoring and community supervision would cut the rate of recidivism.

But a study of the programs found that they were ineffective.

Juveniles who took part in the state-funded programs in 1999 were more likely to commit crimes after their discharge than youths in the system during 1994, before the programs were implemented.

The Connecticut Policy and Economic Council compared 600 juveniles from each year, reviewing them at 6-, 12- and 18-month intervals after discharge. The delinquents from 1999 consistently showed higher recidivism rates.

When the state started offering alternative incarceration programs for juvenile delinquents in the mid– 1990s, it expected a drop in the rate of youths committing crimes after they left the system.

Of the 22 programs sampled in the study, only two significantly lowered recidivism rates. The programs were the town of West Haven’s Juvenile Justice Center and the Natchaug Hospital’s outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment program in Mansfield

The legislature ordered the study in 2000 as a way to gauge the programs’ effectiveness.

“This comes as a major shock and surprise,” said Sen. Donald E. Williams Jr., co-chairman of the legislature’s Select Committee on Children. “I don’t think this means we have to abandon our efforts to steer juveniles back on the right course. But I think it means we need to change our course and improve programs so they can better deal with youths in the juvenile justice system.”

Copyright Washington Crime News Service Aug 30, 2002

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